Movies like Any Given Sunday to (both versions of) The Longest Yard are beloved by football fans everywhere. But if you could build a starting lineup with these (fictional) players, who would you pick? Here's our lineup.
The silver screen has been kinder to other sports than football, for the most part. The cost and complexity of reproducing game action, and the dual needs of understanding complex schemes and legitimate football discussion, make replicating the game a tough go. But there have been both great football movies and great characters in hilariously bad football movies, and it is the second group we're looking to feature in this article. Not that all the guys in our Silver Screen All-Pros are in bad movies, but we're not focused on the quality of those on-screen performances, per se.
The question posed in this article is: If you had to put together a team of All-Pros from movies—the best football movie team of all time—who would you choose? So, Rudy is out. The cute kids from Little Giants ... out. (Sorry, Becky "Icebox" O'Shea). We want guys who, in a hypothetical vacuum, could credibly suit up. However, there's one more rule: No former NFL stars can make the list. There's only one exception to this rule on our team, because we don't want to tell Lawrence Taylor that he didn't make the cut.
So, without further ado, here's our Silver Screen All-Pro team.
Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx), Any Given Sunday; Paul "Wrecking" Crewe (Burt Reynolds), The Longest Yard
We're going with Willie Beamen as our starting quarterback, especially if he continues to grow under head coach Tony D'Amato in the new Albuquerque franchise (sorry Shane Falco and Cap Rooney, you almost made the cut). Let's bet that he takes that chip on his shoulder from that early-career disillusionment, plus his rare combination of arm strength and mobility, to a higher level in the pros. As our backup, we'll go with the Paul "Wrecking" Crewe from the original Longest Yard—not the Adam Sandler remake—because this guy will do whatever it takes to win. Like, literally. Whatever it takes.
Julian Washington (LL Cool J), Any Given Sunday
Washington was the most credible back in movie history, in our opinion, though Earl Meggett from the Longest Yard remake and Darnell Jefferson from The Program could have worked their way in here. Washington certainly thinks a lot of himself, but he backs it up on the field, and he's going to tell any young quarterback with his own attitude issues to kiss his Armani ... butt.
Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), Jerry Maguire; Charlie Tweeder (Scott Cann), Varsity Blues
Not only did Tidwell give us one of the greatest quotes in sports movie history ("Show me the money!"), but he also displayed a tremendous amount of personal growth through Cameron Crowe's ode to the agency industry. Tweeder is our prototypical gritty slot receiver, with all that implies. Yes, he's a Wes Welker clone on the field, with some true quote potential of his own (few of which we can repeat here). It's an undersized, volatile, but highly productive receiver duo we have here.
Brian Murphy (David Denman), The Replacements
Derrick Coleman of the Seahawks has proven that you can be hearing-impaired and have a successful NFL career, so why not Murphy? By all accounts, he would have been a first-round pick but for his deafness, and as Jimmy McGinty told Pilachowski, at least he'll never be called offsides on an audible.
Bud-Lite Kaminski (Abraham Benrubi), The Program; Louie Lastik (Ethan Suplee), Remember the Titans
Between Kaminski's trash-talking and Lastik's singing ability, we've got both sides of the character equation covered. Bud-Lite is the more athletic of the two, so we'll have him protecting Willie Beamen's blind side, while Lastik (who looked to weigh a good 350) will blow people out on the right side. This is only the beginning of our very unique offensive line.
Billy Bob (Ron Lester), Varsity Blues; Ed Lawrence (John Goodman), Everybody's All-American
Yeah, here's where the characters really are. Who doesn't love Billy Bob? Yes, he has a clear eating disorder, and he can't really tell pigs from dogs, and he's not always the best blocker... but when you get him focused and on the right track? Dude's a flat out beast. Lawrence was running back Gavin Grey's main running buddy on and off the field, at least until he met his demise ... well, we won't spoil it for you. But this guy was absolutely nuts on the field, and we like that.
Manumana "The Slender," (Peter "Navy" Tuiasosopo), Necessary Roughness
And with all those wackos on the line, it's good to have a voice of reason on your starting five. There are few more reasonable than Manumana, who helped keep the Texas State Fightin' Armadillos together through their no-scholarship, no-win, one-tie season. He was also Lucy Draper's protector, and an unfailingly polite presence throughout the campaign. Plus, which nose tackle was going to get past a double-team of him and Billy Bob?
Steve Lattimer (Andrew Bryniarski), The Program; Andre Krimm (Sinbad), Necessary Roughness; Julius Campbell (Wood Harris), Remember the Titans; Phillip Finch (Tab Thacker), Wildcats
Given Lattimer's propensity for throwing his head through car windows, we're wondering how he'll do with the NFL's stricter concussion policies these days, but it's worth the risk. And Julius Campbell has the talent to bend the edge with the best of them. Andre Krimm? Who could resist this former star and West Texas teacher, who went back in pads to teach a bunch of ragtag guys how to play defense the right way? Phillip Finch gives this front four the necessary beef at the nose tackle position, just as soon as we find a jersey that fits. We'll give Finch extra credit for punching his head coach's doofy ex-husband dead in the face. That guy had it coming.
Luther "Shark" LaVay (Lawrence Taylor), Any Given Sunday; Charles Jefferson (Forest Whitaker), Fast Times at Ridgemont High; Robert "Bobby" Boucher, Jr. (Adam Sandler) The Waterboy
Shark LaVay? Nothing more needs to be said. Yes, he was in it more for the money at the end of his career, but Shark played like LT played: lights out, all the way. And we'll just make sure that we wreck and throw graffiti all over Jefferson's car before every game; under those conditions, he's unstoppable. Speaking of unstoppable, the only thing that could get in the way of Bobby Bouchet's greatness is the litany of fines and suspensions he'd get for all those vicious hits. Do not make fun of Bobby. Or, his mama.
Trumaine (Wesley Snipes), Wildcats; Stefen Djordjevic (Tom Cruise), All the Right Moves
Like most of Coach McGrath's Central High players, Trumaine had a few off-field issues, but his on-field talent was clear. Just keep him away from hot-wiring cars, and it should all be good. And while Djordjevic did have some problems with his own headstrong coach, but he's a smart, tough kid with the desire to go somewhere in life. That should count for something, right?
Brian Chavez (Jay Hernandez), Friday Night Lights
"Chavez, you're like a human piñata. You get your ass all beat more than anybody I know, and you just sit there and spit out candy."
The smartest kid in the movie version of the Panthers (then, the Permian Panthers, later to be the Dillon Panthers for the outstanding television version) did have things going his way. And he'll be the angel in the center field position in our defense.
Nigel "The Leg" Gruff (Rhys Ifans), The Replacements
Yes, we went with the wiry Welshman, who told Shane Falco that all he'd have to do is hold the ball, and he'd kick the bleepity-bleep out of it. Which, to his credit, "The Leg" generally did. However, when it comes to kickers on the roster, there can be only one...
Lucy Draper (Kathy Ireland), Necessary Roughness
If you throw any shade on Lucy's ability to boot the ball through the uprights, you may well wind up with a boot of your own. Welcome to Foot. Ball. Indeed.